Toledo’s Cody Thompson stiff arms Maine’s Najee Goode, Jr., on his way to a 64-yard touchdown on Saturday. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Against Maine on Saturday, the University of Toledo football team established its big-play offense early in the game and carried it through the entire contest.
As nice as that was from a coaching standpoint in a 45-3 win, UT coach Jason Candle said he doesn’t want his offense to become too reliant on the big plays.
“Sometimes, a quick-strike offense can be frustrating for an offense too, and for a head coach,” Candle said. “The first touchdown to Corey [Jones], as good as that was, the first two plays were equally as bad. It’s kind of like the 3-point shot in basketball — you don’t want to live totally by that. We have to do a better job sustaining some drives, but we’re certainly not going to complain about long touchdowns. If you are going to challenge us near the line of scrimmage, we have to be able to win those one-on-one matchups outside on the perimeter.”
The Toledo offense had the ball for just 24:30 compared to Maine's time of possession of 35:30. The Rockets had quick-strike plays in the passing game with wide receiver Jones opening the scoring on the first drive of the game on a third-down play that went for an 85-yard touchdown.
UT added a 64-yard TD from quarterback Logan Woodside to Cody Thompson, and Woodside found Jon’Vea Johnson on an 89-yard TD pass in the third quarter.
“It’s not something I go into the game thinking I’m going to have a 60 or 70-yard touchdown,” Thompson said. “But when things are clicking and we’re just kind of on a roll, I’ll take whatever comes to me.”
For the second straight week, the passing game carried Toledo as Maine sold out to stop the run by stacking defenders near the line of scrimmage.
As the season goes along and better running lanes open up, UT should be able to sustain longer drives to complement the big plays.
“We have five veteran lineman coming back this year, plus really good backs,” Candle said. “I think we’ll be just fine. It’s a numbers game in the running game. It’s discouraging that we haven’t got the chunk plays and the explosive plays, but if you look back on the tape, the defense we just played had two good safeties who were really solid tacklers.
“When you’re at six or seven yards and worrying about getting [the running backs] on the ground, now the ball can go over your head. We probably hit some of those chunk plays in the game that didn’t allow us to get a running game going in the second half as much as we would like to, but that’s OK because, at the end of the day, when you score on a possession, that’s what really matters.”
Toledo is averaging a solid 186 rushing yards in the first two games of the season. but they are still committed to being more dynamic in the running game.
“Where we are at our best is when we can be balanced and put the defense on their heels a little bit and become a little bit less predictable,” Candle said. “That’s what we are striving for, and it has always kind of been that way.”
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